Ukrainian soldier, on leave, reflects on horrors of war

STORY: For Ukrainian soldier Dmytro Dovzhenko, embracing his family back in Poland after six months on the front line brings a special poignancy… as he tries to clear his mind of images of war.

"I am home now. I am where my wife and my children are. I am home. Of course, [in Ukrainian] I am happy. I am happy.”

Dovzhenko and his family moved to Poland from Ukraine in 2019. But after Russian forces attacked his native land earlier this year, he returned to fight.

Months of combat later, the 41-year-old can now savor the daily routine of home life - cooking, cuddling his two small children and going for walks with his wife Oleksandra.

OLEKSANDRA: "When he's here, it's always a holiday. He's a wonderful husband and father...we are doing everything so we can be together."

The current war is not the first time Dovzhenko has battled Russian troops. He fought against them in the Donbas region in 2014, the year Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

But this time, he said, the conflict is more brutal.

"There used to be a battle line - our country is here and there was a legal delineation. Now there's no such line. And all of the rockets, the shots, everything that Russia is using now wasn't there before."

With no sign of a let-up in the Russian advance and the Ukrainian army outgunned, Dovzhenko has little patience for western voices that express concern but offer no tangible help.

“Someone is concerned and we have rockets falling on our heads. If you're so concerned, we can switch spots. I invite them to Kharkiv or Mikolaiv. Their concern will be very much needed there."

He described the image of a mother and child in Irpin, whose mutilated bodies had been tied together. He also showed Reuters cell phone footage of bodies laid out in a hospital he said he visited in nearby Bucha.

The defense ministry in Moscow did not respond to a request for comment on Dovzhenko's accounts of the war, which Reuters was not able to independently verify.

Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

While home, Dovzhenko and his wife stayed focused on enjoying their last hours together before he returns to Ukraine.

“Tomorrow I will come back to my work, to my army unit. It is work, work that needs to be done. I might have a very small chance of being able to return again to my wife and kids. But this work needs to be done."